Adrian Gonzalez was a different hitter. Gone were the days when 30 home runs could be expected out of the first baseman each season. Instead, Gonzalez would have to help the Los Angeles Dodgers by consistently hitting for average and driving in runs. The change had been attributed to shoulder surgery that sapped his power, something that Gonzalez himself frequently referenced.
In 2014, however, the Gonzalez of old appears to have returned.
Currently leading the league with nine home runs, Gonzalez has again become a power threat in the middle of the Dodger lineup. In his 30 games, Gonzalez has slashed .313/.388/.634, posting an obscene 1.022 OPS in the process. Not only has he driven in 25 runs, he has also improved his walk rate, which had been down over the past two years. So far this season, his BB% is 10.9%, compared with 6.1% in 2012 and 7.3% in 2013.
For Gonzalez, he has attributed his returned power to an increased ability to finish his swing, saying to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:
"My finish is coming back. It's something that's more mechanical than physical. If I can have a high finish and long finish like that, the ball will have more carry. Really, it's the basis of my swing. If I have a good finish, I have a good swing, so it's really what I focus on."
If Gonzalez is able to continue his power surge, the Dodgers figure to have an incredibly formidable lineup when Hanley Ramirez inevitably gets it going. Ramirez is currently slashing .261/.344/.450 with three home runs and 11 RBI, and while it may be unfair to expect him to repeat his 2013 line of .345/.402/.638, the shortstop is simply bound to significantly improve his production. When that happens, the Dodgers figure to have a fearsome combo that opposing pitchers must face.
Tags: Adrian Gonzalez, Baseball, Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB